Saturday, June 27, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: MENtal HEALTH BY ALLAN KEHLER

2020 hasn't been ALL bad.

For the past few months I kept hearing the name Allan Kehler, Allan Kehler, ALLAN KEHLER. The name had been coming up in my conversations with friends like Clint Malarchuk, Health industry personnel and media folk. Allan's mug even popped up in my Facebook feed under "People You May Know". But I didn't know him.

It seemed Allan Kehler's name is a trusted one, and my friends told me he's a Mental Health advocate, motivational speaker and best-selling author out of Saskatoon. "You've gotta meet him," they kept saying. "You two'd hit it off!"

And then this week, out of the blue, I got a note from Allan saying he was going to be in my city and he asked for a meeting. As I've learned in Recovery when someone opens a door for you, you walk through it. So we set up a time to meet on Friday at the studios of my daily sports talkshow.

That in itself was a gong show and Allan would have his first "Welcome To Rod's Life" moment as he had to adjust his schedule for my antique Jeep breaking down, which threw a kink into our plans. Then he had to wade through a staff barbecue in our studio parking lot being thrown by retired NFL'er-turned-TV analyst Tori Gurley. (Allan graciously accepted a hotdog).

Once inside the IKS Media building, we closed the glass door to a nice air conditioned conference room and got down to business. 

You see when two people in Recovery and in the "helping people" business connect, you get to the heart of the matter real fast and the conversation can last for hours. The rest of the world doesn't *get us*, so we cherish the few who do.  ("Why would you help somebody else with no expectation of a return?" is the popular refrain from the earthlings). 

Anyway after briefly sharing our stories and scheming how best to team up our services, Allan handed me four copies of his latest book MENtal Health - It's Time To Talk, with the foreword by famed broadcaster and Mental Health speaker Michael Landsberg.

I promised Allan I would read it over the weekend but in truth, I crushed it by noon on Saturday. That's a testament in two ways: 1) I couldn't put it down, and 2) The book is framed in small, bite-sized chapters which makes it easily digestible. If you have a passion for this stuff, you'll blaze through it too.

And what's different about Kehler's fourth book is that it's tailored specifically to men. It examines the stats on men's Mental Health issues versus women's, how they affect each gender differently (inward versus outward reactions), and much, much more.


With Allan Kehler (left) at IKS Media
There are a host of short stories from men from all walks of life sharing their struggles. You want to hear from the guy running through downtown barefoot in a hospital gown and wonder why he did it? That guy tells you in this book. You want to know why farmers are among the most stressed and anxious blue-collar workers and how they deal with it (or DON'T deal with it?). You'll hear from one young farmer - who's also a junior hockey coach - on how we've been looking at it all wrong our whole lives. You'll also hear from the First Responder whose PTSD led him down the wrong path before he turned his life around with the proper help.

And that right there is the biggest key. I'll admit there's a tornado of stories encapsulated in the 181 pages which can be a lot to absorb in one sitting. But one key message kept coming through over and over:

You need to reach out for assistance if you're struggling. Nobody can do it for you and once you're tired enough of living in the storm, it's up to you to take the first step. And if a door or two gets slammed in your face, don't be discouraged. Try another door. Keep trying doors until the right one opens because you'll find it.

The publication is also rife with little nuggets that'll stay with you forever, like: "You are the author of your life. But the universe is the editor". That one came from the guy who was running barefoot downtown in a hospital gown. Maybe he's not so crazy after all.

MENtal Health is a collection of stories from the winners who kept fighting and came out on the other side. They didn't give up no matter how much adversity was shoved in their face.

Who doesn't love a good comeback story?

And one other thing about 2020 not being so bad. There are have been countless horrible things go on this calendar year which are largely out of our control. However we are also in the midst of the digital age and no matter where you live in the world - no matter how remote or even how congested it is - you can find all the resources and the "right door" online.

Shame, embarrassment and stigma are no longer viable excuses for not getting help.

Allan Kehler's book gives you the keys to get your life back.

Bravo.

Order yours direct-to-home from Allan's website: https://www.outfromtheshadows.ca/shop/mental-health-its-time-to-talk/
or at your local Indigo/Chapters.

Rod Pedersen
Pedersen Recovery Inc./The Recovery Hour

Saturday, June 6, 2020

TOP 10 BEST THINGS OF A SOBER LIFE

Nine times out of 10 when someone I meet learns that I no longer drink (1,957 days as of this writing), they say, "Boy it must be great not having to deal with hangovers!"

Of course it is, but in truth that's about the 10th best thing I've discovered from leading a sober life. So for this week's blog post, here are my Top 10 Best Things of My Sober Life after hitting rock bottom on January 26, 2015:

1 - NO FEAR: The rest of these points really are in no particular order but this is my clearcut #1. Why? Because imagine being paralyzed by fear so much that you're afraid to look at your phone, you shudder in a cold sweat each and every time a text or call comes in because you assume you're in trouble for something you did or said while drinking (and most times you don't even remember doing it). Imagine having to tiptoe around your boss's office to avoid his angry glare for your drunken antics, or constantly worry about "who's talking to who" about the drama you created about yourself.

Now, all of that is gone and that's the biggest relief in the world.

2 - EXPERIENCING LIFE: A week long trip to Mexico seems like two weeks, or a 2-day road trip seems like a 4-day adventure because you're not drunk half the time and hungover in bed for the other half. Somebody just asked me this week how I handle so much life on the road without drinking and he said "What's life like?" Well, it was exhilarating to be sitting in a Starbucks in downtown Toronto at 7:00 am last Saturday when Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter walked in. The old me would've still been in bed sleeping it off. On this morning, Carter and I chatted, took a photo, and I soon learned he's in long-term Recovery too. That's one of hundreds of examples of how nice it is to be "with it", and finally enjoying the real side of life rather than getting loaded in a dingy bar.

3 - FREEDOM: It's a real thing. Not having to take the long way around a checkstop never gets old, and it's empowering to drive by a cop and look him in the eye. This may seem elementary to you if you're not an alcoholic, but hardcore drinkers will nod their heads like a bobblehead when they read this. Above all else, it's nice to be able to rent a car on so many of our trips and know Blood Alcohol Level won't be a problem. Travelling across borders is effortless and free. Sober living is win, win, win.

4 - TRUST: This has to rank up near the top, and it's wide-ranging. But the big one is the security that my wife and family feels about me now when I'm off on my own. There are no worries that I'll get into trouble or injure myself. A scrape on my shin or hands is easily explained - and believed - rather than the elaborate lies I had to cook up in my old life. That was exhausting. Now it's all gone. My family knows I'll be doing the right thing, all the time, when I'm gone or when they're gone.


Photo by Larry Mueller
5 - FINANCES: This shouldn't be surprising, but it's bigger than you think. It's one thing to ring up high bar tabs for yourself and buy the whole tavern drinks just so you have somebody to drink with (pathetic I know, but it was a regular occurrence). But what about this: lost sunglasses, cell phones, VEHICLES, and every other material possession you could think of. It didn't take very long into Recovery for me to see my bank account go up, up, and up. In fact, I bought a Jeep with money I've saved in sobriety and it's a reward I enjoy every day.

6 - RESPECT AND SELF-RESPECT: Did you know the most important things on this earth, you can't buy? (Love, respect, trust, dignity, health). I'm literally years into Recovery and still digging myself out of the 25-year hole I created while wallowing in the disease of Alcoholism. It's a day-by-day effort to restore respect and dignity and it only comes by proving yourself every 24 hours (hence our favourite saying, One Day At A Time). However the days stack up into weeks, months and years and I've met a lot of new people who have no idea about my past. They say I'm a nice, respectable, admirable person and some even call me Mr. Pedersen. I never thought getting to this point would ever be possible. Again, what a reward for sobriety.

On the flipside, as an addict you allow people to treat you like garbage because you think you are garbage. Because of your dirty little secret, you don't think you can have nice things. However once that secret is out in the open and dealt with, life becomes a whole new world. Put it this way: if you mistreat me now, you'd better be prepared for a fight.

7 - CLEAR MIND: They call it the "Alcoholic Fog" and it too is a thing. Booze really takes over your brain and clouds all of your thinking. That, I feel, is why 90 days in Recovery is a real milestone because by that point, you should be coming out of the fog, detangling your mind, feeling 100% better physically, and realizing a sober life is the ONLY option for an alcoholic. There were times on my radio show where my mind would just "freeze" because of my drinking and I literally could not think. That is not optimum on live radio. It was absolutely horrible.

One day last year I was sitting on the patio of a coffee house in Phoenix and looked up at the blue, cloudless sky. I thought to myself, "My mind is as clear as that Arizona sky." What a feeling!

8 - MY HEALTH: You would think this would be higher on the list, and perhaps it should be. When I got into Recovery everyone kept saying, "You're sick!" and "You're not well!" What on earth were they talking about? I was in the gym at least an hour everyday. But it was the shock of my life when my doctor said I'd be dead in a year the way I was going if I didn't change my life, pronto. Someone told me last week that I look 10 years younger. My skin is fresh and that's likely because I sleep like a baby. ("A clean conscience is the softest pillow" - John Wooden). I am preparing for a long and happy life rather than wishing I was dead, which I did just a few years ago.

9 - NOT FEELING LOST: This kind of spills into my Anxiety Disorder but it's another real thing. As an alcoholic you feel like you're on an island - except for your drinking buddies - but when you get into Recovery you meet dozens, maybe even hundreds, of people who are just like you. That's a nice feeling. And by keeping a daily journal you plant your feet on the ground rather than waving around in the wind like a balloon. I got started in this by my accountant who wanted me to track my mileage on a daily basis. Soon I was writing down who I talk with daily, where I went for lunch, family events, etc. Basically, it feels like you have your shit together for the first time in your life.

10 - NO HANGOVERS: So, yes, not having hangovers is a pretty wonderful way to go through life but it doesn't really compare to the nine other points above. Plus, when you drink as much as an alcoholic does, hangovers aren't really that bad. I see people who go on benders once or twice every year and sometimes wonder, "Why can't I do that?" However I quickly realize that I was doing it every weekend or sometimes multiple times per week. It was completely ruining my life and I'm grateful every minute of every day that I found the road out.

* If you have a serious problem with alcohol (if it's causing problems in your life), then it's imperative that you seek help. If it's deemed that you suffer from Alcoholism, then drinking can no longer be part of your life.

Hopefully this week's blog shows you what the upside of that is. It's ALL positive.

RP
Twitter: @pedersenrecover
IG: @pedersenrecovery
FB: Pedersen Recovery & Coaching Inc.

SC: Pedersenmedia

Friday, June 5, 2020

RECOVERY ADVOCATE PEDERSEN SPEAKS AT PEACOCK

(Photo: Zach Drake, DiscoverMooseJaw.com)
By: Zach Drake, DiscoverMooseJaw.com
Alcohol and drugs have never been more easily accessible to youth, and that's the reason many feel it's so important to educate them on the dangers of substance abuse early.
Former voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders Rod Pedersen now works as a Sober Coach with Pedersen Recovery INC. for athletes, entertainers, the military and more who are battling addictions and mental illness.
Pedersen spends a lot of time working as a recovery advocate and serving as a keynote speaker.
Thursday afternoon, Pedersen spoke to a group of students at Peacock Collegiate. He described what his main message was in the presentation.
"Well, the number one weapon against addiction is prevention. So if we can stop kids before they've started drugs and alcohol abuse it's a win right there. If it's an older group I talk to, I say 'it's never too late to turn your life around' but with kids like this at Peacock I say 'it's never too early'. If you're starting to experience issues with mental health or addictions/substance abuse, look into it. Don't let it take your life down the drain like it did with mine."
Pedersen also explained why it's important to educate youth, even as young as 10 years old.
"I've become big on numbers. Suicide rates have tripled for kids 10-14, and there's a variety of reasons why that is ... a lot of excuses why that is. It's an important age; it's when people start to make life-altering decisions. Again it's about prevention, the number one weapon against addiction is prevention. We're trying to get to them as early as we can, because it's easier to build boys and girls than it is to repair men and women."
Pedersen added that it only takes one person in your corner to turn your life around and that it could be as simple as a single sentence that saves your life.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

RECOVERY PODCAST: DYSLEXIA SUFFERER, ADDICTION SURVIVOR BRENT SOPEL

"I was a bully and I caused a lot of pain. Now, helping others is greater than any day on the ice." - Brent Sopel

Stanley Cup champion and NHL star Brent Sopel is the latest guest on the Pedersen Recovery Podcast!

The 42-year old Calgary product has recently gone public with his story of a lifelong battle with Dyslexia, which led to a substance abuse battle, and successful stint in a treatment center.

Sopel played in the Western Hockey League with the Saskatoon Blades and Swift Current Broncos, but admits to graduating high school at only a Grade 8 reading level.

Brent went on to a very successful NHL career with stops in Vancouver, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and Montreal, winning a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010. All tolled, he played 659 NHL games.

However all-the-while, he was carrying scars of being mocked in elementary school, and the frustration of not knowing what was wrong with him well into his adulthood.

The story of how he got the Dyslexia diagnosis is a cliffhanger. However even after that, it took many more years before he'd reach successful, long-term sobriety.

Nowadays, Brent Sopel is an advocate for those suffering from Dyslexia and heads up the Brent Sopel Foundation for charitable causes. He is a proud Recovery Warrior.

Please enjoy this month's Recovery podcast interview with NHL star and survivor Brent Sopel:

Monday, September 23, 2019

RECOVERY PODCAST: CODY FAJARDO TELLS HIS FAITH STORY

Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo is a rising star in the football world, but also within the Faith community.

The 27-year old pivot from Brea, CA has risen to prominence in the Canadian Football League in his first year as a starter, but his fifth in the CFL. He also spent time with the NFL's Oakland Raiders.

Fajardo drew headlines this season with his colourful "Sprinkle of Jesus" quote, when he led the Riders on a game-winning touchdown drive in a 24-19 victory over Hamilton on August 1 at Mosaic Stadium. After the game, Cody gave credit for his heroics to his Lord and Saviour. The comment took off within the Rider Nation, and within the religious community

In this month's Pedersen Recovery Podcast, Cody Fajardo tells his personal Faith story, how he dealt with his parents' divorce as a teen, and how he deals with critics since he wears his heart on his sleeve as a Believer.

Please enjoy this uplifting interview with Cody Fajardo:

Thursday, August 15, 2019

RECOVERY PODCAST: RAPTORS ANNOUNCER HERBIE KUHN

Like millions of Canadians, it's very likely you were wrapped up in the thrilling Toronto Raptors run to the 2019 NBA championship this past spring!

And, if you were tuned into the broadcasts on TSN and Sportsnet, you'll recall a deep, baritone voice introducing "Yourrrrrrrrrrr Toronnnnnto Rrrrrraptors!" to the hardwood at Scotiabank Arena before thousands of fans, and millions more on TV.

That voice belongs to my friend Herbie Kuhn who, in addition to his role as Public Address Announcer for Canada's NBA Team, serves as the club's official co-Chaplin. He is also the Team Chaplin for the CFL's Toronto Argonauts, and that's how he and I crossed paths.

It was at the 2016 Grey Cup in Toronto, where Herbie was serving as the MC for the annual Athletes In Action Breakfast at the Sheraton in Downtown Toronto. I'll detail a little more of the story in the podcast, but suffice it to say that Herbie and I met, exchanged numbers, and became fast friends.

Fast forward to today, and Herbie can now say he's a champion of both the CFL and the NBA! But he took a long, tough road to get there due to a battle with substance abuse and mental health issues before turning his life around. Now, he's helping others get out of similar funks and clearly he's doing great things.

Please enjoy our visit with Raptors announcer Herbie Kuhn on this month's Pedersen Recovery Podcast:

Thursday, July 4, 2019

LIONS' MIKE REILLY OPENS UP ON MENTAL HEALTH BATTLE


SURREY, B.C. - One of the CFL's toughest players says he's no longer afraid to face his mental health.

More than a year and a half after experiencing a terrifying bout of panic attacks and anxiety, B.C. Lions quarterback Mike Reilly shared his experience in a stark piece for CFL.ca on Wednesday, saying he hopes it helps others dealing with similar issues.

"I just hope that (my story) empowers people to know that it's not taboo and it's not something people should frown upon,'' the 34 year old told reporters at the Lions' suburban training facility on Wednesday, just hours after the piece went live online.

"People should celebrate that you're strong enough to be able to get help instead of worrying about how tough you are or how big your ego is or how scared you are.''

Reilly experienced his first panic attack at his off-season home in Seattle in January 2018. He was coming off another season as the league's top passer, having thrown for 5,830 yards and 30 touchdowns for the Edmonton Eskimos in 2017.

He and his wife Emily had one infant daughter and another on the way when, one night, the football star lay down in bed only to find himself unable to breathe, his heart racing, gripped by the fear that he was about to die.

"The scariest part was that it was something new for me and something I hadn't dealt with before,'' Reilly said. "I was scared that I was going to feel that way every day for the rest of my life. That's a pretty rough place to be in.''

Over the next month, the 2015 Grey Cup MVP struggled with reconciling his recurring panic attacks and persistent anxiety with his image of being one of the CFL's toughest athletes. He didn't want to tell anyone - including his wife or his brother, a psychologist - what he was really going through. He worried with how he'd be viewed and that any issue would automatically be linked to a head injury.

"I thought of myself as a super tough guy. But there's a difference between being tough and being dumb,'' Reilly explained. "Being tough is one thing when you're fighting through something on your own. But that was not a scenario where I was going to be able to just fight through and pretend it wasn't happening. Once I finally realized that and got the help that I needed, it was life changing.''

Eventually he reached out, received support and learned various treatment tools, including journaling. The dark feelings and panic attacks quickly dissipated and he continued working to keep them at bay.

Reilly, who signed with the Lions as a free agent in February, said he hasn't experienced any symptoms in more than a year and a half, but he still uses some of the tools and techniques he learned.

Today he has confidence that if anxiety ever encroaches again, he'll be prepared.

"I don't worry about it now during the day because I know that if I start to feel a little bit off, I can go and talk to people and it's not going to be something where I'm going to be judged or I'm going to lose my career for it or things like that,'' he said.

The experience has flipped how Reilly views mental health, from something that can be fought through by those who are tough enough to a medical condition that needs outside help.

"It's something that didn't square in my mind in the beginning and now when I look back on it, I can't believe how wrong I was,'' he said. "It was a life lesson for me, for sure, and one that I'm fortunate to have had the pieces and people in place to get me the help that I needed.''

Now Reilly is joining a handful of other male professional athletes speaking about their personal journey in a bid to break down the stigma that still surrounds mental health.

NBA players DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love have shared their own battles, while NHL goalie Robin Lehner recently spoke out about struggling with addiction, suicidal thoughts and bipolar disorder.

Reilly is also helping others by working with the B.C. arm of the Canadian Mental Health Association, and putting the $25,000 donation he earned from being last year's top player of the week toward Foundry B.C., a group that helps youth access various mental health care and various other supports.

Speaking publicly has brought up some nerves for the quarterback, who prefers to keep his personal life personal.

"It's kind of uncharted territory for me,'' Reilly said. "Any time I've been hurt, physically, I don't talk about it. I've played through a lot of different injuries and I generally don't like to talk about them. It's generally something I deal with on my own.

"But this is not a physical injury. This is something that can and will affect a lot of people. Mental health touches so many different people and you don't even know about it.''

(Canadian Press/Gemma Martens-Smith)

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

KORY SHEETS: RECOVERY IN LIFE AFTER FOOTBALL

Photo: Jeff Sawatzky
Pro football fans' last memory of Kory Sheets is very likely the famed Saskatchewan Roughriders running back ripping off a record 197 yards rushing in the 2013 Grey Cup, and being named the MVP of a 45-23 Saskatchewan victory over Hamilton at Taylor Field.

The highest of highs, you'd think.

Just a few months later Sheets - a free agent - spurned a lucrative offer from the Roughriders to sign with the NFL's Oakland Raiders for a few thousand dollars more. The following August, on national television at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Sheets popped his achilles tendon in a preseason game against the Packers and his career was over. In the blink of an eye.

That's when the regrets, the demons, and the downward spiral began.

With Sheets in Regina in June/2019 Photo: Jeff Armstead
In an interview with The Rod Pedersen Show, Sheets bared all about what Life After Football can be like, and how his life turned south with one fateful decision.

"I wanted to either stay in Saskatchewan or go pursue my dream," the former Dolphin, 49er, Raider and Rider said. "Honestly, I left over $20,000 and now I'm sitting here saying 'man, that's stupid!' Everyday.

"I see a therapist now because I deal with mental health issues and she asked me what my biggest regret in life is.

"I was like, 'Honestly, arguing over $20,000'. I literally left Canada, where I likely should've stayed, because they wouldn't give me an extra $20,000. I could've made that up off the field (in endorsements)! Hindsight's 20/20, you live and you learn, don't sweat the little stuff."

So just a scant six months later, Sheets' career was pinched off when it was potentially at the apex. He knew the second he heard a 'pop' near his ankle that he'd suffered a second severe achilles tendon injury. The Tampa Bay product waved off the trainer's cart and walked off on his own strength, admitting to himself that his days under the lights were over.

"That's another regret," Sheets winced. "I let go of the ball. So my last carry in the NFL was a damn fumble. When it popped, I thought 'Oh no, not this again'. And it was over."

You've likely heard the stories or seen the stats about how 75% of retired NFL'ers are broke, many have taken their own lives or attempted it, and their lives have completely fallen apart.

Kory Sheets is one of them, and he bravely bared his soul on the matter in an attempt to help others.

"For me after football I went through a big stage of depression where it was bad," the 34-year old detailed. "I got committed, and stayed in a facility for five days. That whole domestic violence thing I went through, I like to talk to people about that because there's a misconception about how that went.

"I was in pain through my career, and I took it out on the person that I loved, which was all bad. I think people do that a lot and don't understand where it's coming from. The partner thinks you're mad at them but really they're just a punching bag (metaphorically speaking). They could have nothing to do with what's going on in their partner's life but it's taken out on them. That's what was going on with me."

So how did that situation get resolved?

"She left me!" Sheets blurted. "That wasn't so much of a wakeup call but it forced me to face my biggest fears. It was my girl leaving me, my career was over, having another surgery, I had to move back into my parents' house, everything I didn't want to do in life. I thought, 'Alright, something's gotta give. Clearly, what I'm doing's not helping'. And I reached out and got help. I think more people should do that."

In the Recovery world, we often refer to the term "rock bottom". Anyone who's repaired their life has one. Where was Kory Sheets' rock bottom in this story?

"It was an attempted suicide," Sheets admitted. "I saw the pain in my parents, my sisters and my best friend and all I was doing was making them cry. I was tired of seeing me hurt the people I love. I needed to go get help, and that's what I did."

Forget about facing 300-lb frothing-at-the-mouth defensive linemen or blocking blitzing linebackers. This moment took the most courage Kory had ever mustered.

"It was a long drive to the hospital. I drove myself there and they asked, 'What's going on?' and I said 'I need help'.

The euphoria that comes on the other side of life begins when you tackle your demons head-on. No more running away. And life becomes a whole lot easier after that.

That's where Kory Sheets finds himself today.

"Yeah I've moved on but it's moreso like, have you ever faced your biggest fear in life?" Sheets asked, to which I nodded yes. "It's like, what the hell you got any fear for now? The worst thing I could've ever imagined, I done went through it already! And I'm still here. Nothing can really faze me now."

Just as happy for Kory Sheets is his family, who knew they couldn't do anything till Kory decided to help himself.

"They were just happy seeing me try to get better because they were watching me beat myself down and tear myself apart," Sheets surmised. "But they couldn't help me. They didn't know how, they didn't know why or what was going on with me because I didn't talk to people. Most men don't talk to people about their feelings.

"And I think that needs to change."

Sheets has a message for anyone who finds themself in a similar situation, and is wondering if there's a way out. It's not hopeless.

"You're not alone," Sheets concluded. "We're all struggling out here. Life is hard whether you're rich, poor or in the middle. Just talk to somebody and don't be afraid to reach out and get help. I promise you it's there and your loved ones will want to help you."

For more information on Kory Sheets or to book him for your event, visit his website at https://www.sheets24k.com.

(Rod Pedersen is a Recovery Coach in Sports, Entertainment & Military. He spent 20 seasons in the CFL as a Hall of Fame broadcaster.)

Thursday, May 9, 2019

ONE DAY AT A TIME

PHOTO: Sask Rush
By: Rod Pedersen
For The Edge - A Leader's Magazine
https://theedgeleaders.com/one-day-at-a-time/

When The Edge: A Leader’s Magazine first asked me to write a column on goal-setting and the importance of having a positive attitude in life, I’ll admit to being somewhat stumped.

I thought to myself, “I know how these concepts have impacted my own life, but how would I relate it to a wide cross-section of industries?”

Then it dawned on me. That’s exactly why they afforded me this opportunity. The fact of the matter is, I’ve got an arsenal of experience with all kinds of goals. Long-term goals, short-term goals, misguided goals, blown goals, experienced goals, adjusted goals, financial goals, you name it.

Famed leadership expert John C. Maxwell has written that life can be related to a Par 5 golf hole. You need to know where the pin is so you have something to work towards. How you get there is up to you.

And so begins the tale of my wild ride through life, which has gotten me to where I am today: putting out on the green of that first Par 5, and moving to the next exciting tee box.

All of these experiences unfolded somewhat unexpectedly, both tragically and triumphantly, and there’s something to be learned in that alone.

From the time I was six years old, all I wanted to be in life was an NHL radio announcer. Each morning when my feet hit the floor, beginning in Grade 1, I worked towards this goal thinking, “What can I do today to help achieve that ultimate target?”

My family was all-in with this idea. My mom enrolled me in French classes from Grades 7-12 so that I’d be bilingual by graduation. At 16, I begged for a new set of goaltender equipment for Christmas but when I unwrapped that large, heavy box, it was a new typewriter! As it turned out, my parents knew my destiny before I even did.

In broadcasting college, I laid out goals for the next 10 years: to be a play-by-play man in the Western Hockey League by age 20, to be in Regina by 22, and to be in the National Hockey League by age 25. I hit a bullseye on the first two, and although I didn’t get to the NHL by 25, I was hired by the Canadian Football League at 26 (the youngest in the history of the league). Things were coming along swimmingly!

Unfortunately, at this point I took my eye off the ball. A serious alcohol addiction was rapidly taking over my life and by the time the NHL came calling in the summer of 2014, I was primed for a trainwreck.

It’s true, I agreed to terms with an NHL team to be their “voice,” but the euphoria only lasted a week. Once the team learned of my off-air issues, the offer was pulled. It took me a few years to accept the fact that this blown opportunity was entirely my own fault, and not anyone else’s.

But that’s where the rebirth happened. After facing an intervention and getting into recovery in January of 2015, a magnificent new world unfolded.

Recovery concepts are a topic for another column, but my life changed when my own sober coach mentioned these words which changed my life forever: “Stop chasing the puck and let the puck come to you. You’ve been chasing that NHL dream for 35 years, but the door isn’t opening. Stop chasing and start listening to the opportunities which are being presented to you.”

It was an epiphany! And the mantra of recovery, “One day at a time,” meant so much to me in recovery that I had a bracelet made as a daily reminder. I offer these bracelets to each person I sober-coach to this day, and they wear them as a badge of honour.

I envy the people who’ve managed to live life one day at a time since childhood, because I didn’t get into the game until later in life. But the bright side, from the perspective of my own journey, is that a lot of people never do.

That’s where the idea of positive thinking comes in. “One day at a time” isn’t limited to sobriety. Winning each day with a series of small goals – being a good person, helping others, learning something new, moving past resentments, being grateful for your gifts rather than obsessing over what you don’t have – adds up to greater rewards than you ever could have imagined. I’ve reached goals and achievements in the past four years of which I never could have dreamt.

One last thing: be sure to pause every once in a while to enjoy the view of this beautiful Par 5 we call life.

(Rod Pedersen is the President & CEO of Pedersen Recovery Inc. working as a Sober Coach, Interventionist & Mental Health Advocate in Sports & Entertainment. His clients come from the NFL, MLB, NHL, CFL, CHL and CJHL. He is a contributing writer for The Edge Magazine)

Friday, April 26, 2019

ADDICTION RECOVERY PODCAST: CHRIS "KNUCKLES" NILAN

In our latest Pedersen Recovery Podcast series, we sit down with famed NHL enforcer Chris "Knuckles" Nilan.

Hockey fans will remember Nilan as a bruising, fan-favourite with the Montreal Canadiens where he spent the majority of his 16 NHL seasons, winning a Stanley Cup in 1986.

The Boston, MA product now hosts a radio show on TSN 690 Montreal and also works in the Recovery field as a trained interventionist.

But what most people don't know - and I certainly didn't - is that Nilan is 8-years sober from intravenous heroin addiction, along with alcohol and other drugs. His rock bottom came in a Boston hotel bathroom where he overdosed. When he awoke, he made the decision which would ultimately save his life and that was to reach out for help.

In this podcast interview Nilan details his Recovery story, what life was like before and what it's like now, and delivers a message to the still-suffering alcoholic/addict.

The Pedersen Recovery Podcast features names from the sports and entertainment fields detailing their Recovery stories from addiction and mental illness.

Click below to hear Knuckles' Nilan's Recovery story:

Sunday, April 21, 2019

AN INSPIRATIONAL VOICE OF REASON


By: Darcie Khounnoraj
Kipling Citizen

"The conflict is that so many people will show up and listen to you speak about the Roughriders, they all yell and scream and go crazy and that's good, but the recovery/mental health aspect isn't as sexy or glamorous so it's a quieter group, yet you're having a bigger impact," Rod Pedersen, known as the Voice of the Riders, shared in Kipling, SK this month how he uses his voice to help those with addictions and mental illness versus the play-by-play commentary. "The only problem that I have is that I wish more people would speak up because addictions and mental health affect everybody in some way but nobody wants to talk about it."

Rod Pedersen kept the target audience up to date across Saskatchewan for 30 years with the play-by-play commentary for sports fans. Visiting the Kipling community, Pedersen presented his story to more than 120 people at the Kipling Community Centre on Sunday, March 31 sponsored by Kipling Ministerial and Gee Bee Construction.

On Monday, April 1, the Kipling School students (grades 7-12) listened attentively to Pedersen as he spoke of his struggles with alcoholism and the detrimental state of his well-being and the divide in his family while he lived with his addiction.

"I couldn't wait to get to Kipling because this is what my passion is now. I still do the sports banquets because they help raise money in communities, but I'd rather do this!" Pedersen smiled. "If somebody asks me to speak on Recovery, I will show up and speak. Because I'm so new at it, we'll find out in the years ahead what the impact is because I don't know what impact it is having (right now).

"The reason why I'm getting so many opportunities to speak is because it's very rare for somebody to stand in front of a room and say what all their deficiencies have been as a human being - it's so rare - but I don't mind because the worst is over for me as far as I'm concerned!"

Pedersen stated, "I used to have to drink six beer in a half an hour before I went on stage but about 5-6 months into recovery - with alcohol no longer an option - I found a new way to deal with the stress of public speaking. I didn't have that anxiety anymore 'cause I found the tools in recovery to do it. So that was a big change in me. The fact is there really isn't any stress at all. I created it in my head."

Pedersen has spoken to the public for more than three decades but it hasn't always been easy. As a child, Pedersen heard stories from his father who quit drinking 'cold turkey' when Rod was 2 years old. Pedersen spoke of how his father warned him of the dangers of drinking and smoking, noting that he avoided smoking because he disliked his father's bad habit - but drinking was another story.

Pedersen shared his own battles with anxiety, sleepwalking and moods that destroyed relationships and friendships - the early signs of addiction and mental illness.

As a young hockey player, Pedersen described himself as a person with big dreams in the sports industry, knowing early on that he wanted to be a voice heard on the radio. While attending college, his road to addiction began at parties equipped with a variety of drugs and alcohol, peer pressure and the idea of a carefree lifestyle. Although he stayed clear of the drug scene, Pedersen found himself in countless scenarios of blackouts and drunken state into his adult years.

Into his 30s, Pedersen admitted having a negative attitude about his life and the people he shared it with. He recalled a time when he was offered free bar tabs at party scenes just because of who he was.

"The opportunity was there and no one ever stopped me. One day I finally said 'now is the time - I'm going to be like Dad and stop (drinking). But I couldn't," Pedersen described. "It had me in its grasp. I felt trapped in alcoholism and it wasn't nice."

Pedersen admitted that there was a time in his life that he lost the will to live, stating 'I really didn't want to live but I really didn't want to die either.' He lost his ability to motivate himself in his career and personal life, his relationships with family depleted and his life was spiralling out of control.

"I got a prescription for anti-depressants but was never told to stop drinking. I found out that not a pill in the world would change my addiction or the mess I'd made of my life," Pedersen shared. "I had two options when I faced an intervention: Door A - accept the help, go into recovery and save my life or Door B - keep going the way I was going, but be terminated from my job and lose my family. I chose Door A."

While in recovery, Pedersen learned that he not only had an addiction, a disease, but that he also lived with a variety of mental illnesses. An assessment revealed depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder, and addiction. "It was a snapshot of my whole life," he said. "I wasn't angry when I found that out at all. It totally described my whole life to that point."

Now as a trained Interventionist, and through recovery, Pedersen has seen the worst of the worst. He advised that addictions come in all forms including alcohol, drugs, food, sex, video games and more. People become trapped in addictions due to boredom, stress, money issues, limited self-control and to escape their lives.

"People can see that you are struggling but until you decide that you don't want to live that way anymore, they can't really help you. You really have to want to turn your life around - the resources are there," Pedersen assured, adding that the support system also has to stay focused on recovery.

"When the family says enough is enough, they need to be a united front. If there is one weak link in the chain, everything goes down."

As a Drug & Alcohol Treatment Specialist, Interventionist, Mental Health Advocate and Sober Coach, Rod Pedersen's voice will still be heard across the province, only now he speaks up for those with addictions and mental illness.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

TELLING MY STORY IN SWIFT CURRENT


By: Mathew Liebenberg
Swift Current Prairie Post 

Sober Coach and Mental Health advocate Rod Pedersen hopes his personal journey of battling with alcoholism can make a difference to help others to find a way to recovery.

The Drug Strategy Action Committee in Swift Current hosted two events where the former voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders shared his story.

A community presentation took place during an evening event at Walker Place on April 7 and he spoke to Grade 9-12 students at Swift Current Comprehensive High School the following morning.

“I don’t find it difficult at all,” he said after his first presentation. “From the moment I gave my first speech about getting sober. You heard it, I lived 25 years in shame and guilt and I’m not going to live the next 25 that way. So if it helps somebody along the way I’m going to do it.”

He struggled with anxiety since a young age, but he only realized he was suffering from mental illness after he began his recovery. He discovered alcohol at the age of 16 and it became a magic tonic that made it easier to talk to people and also took away his anxious feelings and fears.

His drinking habits became worse over the years until his life was completely taken over by alcohol. An opportunity in 2014 to become the voice of the Calgary Flames never materialized because someone warned the team that he was an alcoholic. After that disappointment he drank even more and he received a warning at work, but it made no difference.

He had no more joy in life and went to see a doctor, who prescribed anti-depressants without addressing Pedersen’s excessive drinking. He started to use more pills than the prescribed dose, because he thought it will help him to feel better.

The use of anti-depressants and heavy drinking caused his rock bottom on Jan. 26, 2015 at the radio station, when he went on air in an intoxicated state. He was suspended and his first day of sobriety started the following day, when he was told to either get into recovery or lose his job.

He spoke for the first time in public about his alcohol addiction at a recovery day event in Regina in September 2016. He was surprised by the positive response and he was contacted by people from across Canada who told him how his story helped them not to drink.

Since then Pedersen has realized he can make a difference by sharing his story, and that there is no shame in doing it.

“The whole province knew I was a drunk,” he said. “So who cares if the whole province knows I got sober, and when you talk about the stories of losing my NHL dream because of alcohol, I look back and say it’s the best thing that ever happened to me years later, because it caused my rock bottom and got me into recovery. I am one of those guys that says everything happens for a reason and the past is the past. My regrets are behind me, and life’s great now and I would tell anybody just thinking about making a change like this, to do it, because I don’t regret stopping drinking, that’s for sure.”

He believes it is important to speak to young people about mental health issues and alcoholism, because he knows what that experience was like when he was their age.

“There weren’t the resources back then when I was a teenager, there just weren’t, but there are for kids now,” he said. “So the reason I’m talking to so many people, in particular young people, is I don’t want to see them lose their dreams and I definitely don’t want to see them lose whatever is dear to them, their families.”

He still remembers an important moment in his life when he was nine years old. A speaker at his school warned students not to do drugs, and that advice has prevented Pedersen from ever getting into drugs, even though there were many opportunities over the years.

“I lost enough, I didn’t lose it all, thank God,” he said. “But that guy, when I was nine, who told me not to do drugs, I don’t even know his name. He saved my life. If some kid can look back and say this guy one day in Swift Current told me this and that’s what I’m going to do and it changed my life, I would like to pay forward what he did for me.”

He did not plan to become a sober coach, but it happened and he is now the founder and CEO of Pedersen Recovery. He has a diploma as a drug and alcohol treatment specialist and he is a trained interventionist.

“When I was getting training in New York to be an interventionist I told the lady that was running it, I don’t belong here,” he recalled. “I’m a football announcer drunk from Canada, I don’t have 27 letters behind my name like all the other people here. And she said ‘You were invited here for a reason; this is happening in your life; get out of the way, let it happen.’”

Pedersen pointed to his “One Day at a Time” wrist bracelet, which symbolizes his approach to life since he started his recovery.

“Every dream, every goal I had I blew out of the water because of my own actions,” he said. “So everybody asks me now what’s your goal and I don’t have one. Every morning when I get up out of bed I try to be a good person. I help people and you know what, it’s going pretty good, but I don’t know what’s next. I didn’t plan to do any of these things that are happening in my life, but they feel good and I’m following with what feels good.”

He believes the legalization of cannabis was a bad decision, and he hopes the taxation revenue will be used to fund prevention and recovery programs. According to Pedersen there is still a shortage of aftercare programs in Saskatchewan and elsewhere in the country. The presence of sober homes in communities can make a difference to assist individuals with their recovery.

“They need to stay sober and they’re in a sober community with other residents, which is great,” he said. “It’s the best way to get sober, and as long as they’re sober they can live in there as long as they want, but if they relapse they get 15 minutes to get their stuff and move out.”

He hosts the Pedersen Recovery Podcast, which is also something he did not plan to do since he started his own recovery. He speaks at treatment recovery centres around the country and people suggested he should start a podcast.

“I started it with just people in sports and entertainment, and it ended up being some pretty big names telling their story of recovery,” he said. “All of a sudden they started playing these in treatment centres across the country to the members. It’s people telling their stories, and I know one thing. When public people come out with their stories of recovery, it makes the average Joe saying if he can do it, I can do it. I hear that all the time. I have people writing into me on Facebook saying if it’s cool for Rod Pedersen to be sober, it’s cool for me to be sober. So doing those interviews helps me stay sober, and what I hear is that it helps others.”

https://www.prairiepost.com/rod-pedersen-speaks-in-swift-current-about-the-road-to/article_6c80ce50-5c7a-11e9-86ee-4bc97c7f36fa.html?fbclid=IwAR03tBu7coMRCj5qTRsK1ZWcumFseZma1hxiWbW1it-NFVHT_TegekzZyMU

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

SASK GOV'T PROVIDES $30-MILLION TO ADDICTIONS AND MENTAL HEALTH

With Health Minister Jim Reiter
From CBC.ca:

Saskatchewan's government is putting $30 million more toward mental health and addictions in 2019-20.

About half of that money — $13.7 million — is going toward North Battleford's new Saskatchewan Hospital, which offers long term psychiatric rehabilitation.

The federal government has also contributed $6.25 million, bringing the Ministry of Health's total dollars for mental health and addictions to $402 million in 2019-20.

"We just think we need to do better on the whole mental health front and this is, I would say, a huge step forward," Health Minister Jim Reiter said.

He said the budget includes "the largest commitment ever to mental health services in our province."

Reiter highlighted more beds, extra staff and new mental health clinics as some of the province's key areas of spending.

The province has also sectioned off $1 million for harm reduction initiatives.

The government outlined the plans for new beds in its release:

- About 75 new residential support beds for people transitioning from hospital back into the community
- About 50 pre and post-addiction treatment beds for people moving between detox and in-patient treatment or back to the community
- 10 new in-patient addiction treatment beds at Pine Lodge in Indian Head
- Six new inpatient addiction treatment beds at Calder Centre in Saskatoon
- Six new in-patient addictions beds for youth in southern Saskatchewan

Opposition says dollars don't go the distance


NDP finance critic Trent Wotherspoon welcomed the "smart investment," but said this is just a start.

"It's certainly not going the distance to the level that Sask people need and deserve," Wotherspoon said. 

He said the province still has a long way to go when it comes to closing the gaps for timely supports and services.

​"We need to realize that ​we have a crystal meth crisis across this province that's ravaging people's lives and families and communities," he said.

"The kind of detox and rehab that's needed there is a longer duration."

The province is putting $1.5 million in funding to turn the temporary Mental Health Assessment Unit in Saskatoon permanent as a Mental Health Short Stay Unit.

It has seven beds and will provide people with acute mental health care needs up to seven days of care. The province had previously indicated it intended to close the temporary unit, causing concern amongst mental health advocates.

'It was awful in the ER': Mental health advocates push for permanent Saskatoon assessment unit
The new budget also allots $1.6 million to start up three "Rapid Access to Addiction Medicine Clinics" in Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert.

Sask. seeking new hires


The province said it is looking to hire more staff to provide mental health and addictions treatment.

The province hopes to use $1.1 million to hire up to 12 full-time staff to help kids and youth who need mental health care. It is also allotting $650,000 to hire up to seven primary care counsellors. More than 139,000 people in the province seek care every year from counsellors like this, often for anxiety and depression.

It alloted $515,000 to hire an unspecified number of pediatric nurses and social workers at the not-yet-open Jim Pattison Children's Hospital emergency department.

The province is putting $300,000 to help the La Ronge Detox Centre provide 24/7 nursing support.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/sask-budget-mental-health-2019-20-1.5064518

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

MENTAL HEALTH PODCAST: NHL GOALIE & BROADCASTER COREY HIRSCH

Welcome back!

It's our first Pedersen Recovery Podcast of 2019 and we're pleased to welcome former NHL goaltender, current Vancouver Canucks broadcaster, and Mental Health Advocate Corey Hirsch!

I'd known - and known of - Corey Hirsch for quite some time. We're the same age, he's from Medicine Hat, AB, and I'd followed his illustrious playing career through his stops in Kamloops, Vancouver, New York, Washington, Dallas and Team Canada.

It was a pleasure to finally meet "Hirschy" in the living room of our mutual friend Curtis Hunt in Regina 10 or so years ago. At the time, Corey was working as a goalie coach.

But what really got my attention - and dropped my jaw - was Corey's raw column on his Mental Health battle on the popular website The Players Tribune two years ago. The courage Corey displayed in telling his story was remarkable, but it was equally sad to hear what he'd gone through including an attempt to take his own life.

Happily, Corey came out on the other side and lived to tell the tale after reaching out for assistance. Now he's sharing his story and doing his best to help others.

Here for you in our latest Recovery Podcast is Corey Hirsch telling his own personal story of battling Mental Illness, and he hopes to help others who might be battling the same thing.

Give it a listen here:

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

RECOVERY PODCAST: NFL AND CFL LINEMAN XAVIER FULTON

It's a brand new month, and time for a brand new Recovery Podcast here at Pedersen Recovery Inc.

This interview is one I've been excited to post for quite some time.

At 6'5" and 285 lbs, former NFL and CFL offensive tackle Xavier Fulton certainly looks the part of a rough-and-tumble pro football player.

But his life journey has had more than its share of ups and downs, with football stops in Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, San Francisco, Washington, Edmonton, Saskatchewan, Hamilton and Montreal.

His longest stint was with the Saskatchewan Roughriders (2012-2016), but it was there where he hit his own personal rock bottom and began taking the steps to turn his life around.

Those around him didn't know what "X" was going through at the time, but it turns out to be a familiar story for anyone who's battled the demons of Alcoholism and Mental Illness.

The Chicago, IL product went public with his personal story in 2016, and is happy to share it with our podcast listeners.

Heart-breaking at times, Xavier's story is one of triumph and inspiration and I'm thrilled to be able to share it with you.

Thanks again to our Recovery sponsors Fine Foods, Milk 2 Go Sport and C.J. Evans Home Designs for their continued support of all our Recovery efforts including one-on-one coaching, public speaking, interventions, sober events and this podcast.

Please have a listen here:
 

Monday, December 10, 2018

PEDERSEN RECOVERY RODCAST: CRIS CARTER

Pro Football Hall of Famer and Person In Recovery Cris Carter is the debut guest on the inaugural edition of the Pedersen Recovery RODCAST with host Rod Pedersen.

The 8-time Pro Bowler and long-time ESPN and Fox NFL analyst gives a shockingly raw account of his history with Addictions and Mental Illness, and holds nothing back in this interview.

Carter answers with amazing candor and honesty:

- What's your Recovery story?

- What was life like before, and what's it like now?

- How do you deal with social pressures around drinking?

- What's your Self-Care regimen?

- What advice would you give the still-suffering Alcoholic or Addict?

- What advice would you give young people in the same position you were?

Listen to the show by clicking on the link below. If you have any suggestions for future podcast interviews, please email me or post in the Comment section!

For more information or sponsorship inquiries for Pedersen Recovery Inc., please email Director of Business Development Joe Gunnis at gunny@sasktel.net or Rod Pedersen at pedersenrecovery@aol.com. For more information on the Pedersen Recovery Right Place, Right Time Tour, click here.

Follow our Social Media links at:
Facebook: Pedersen Recovery Coaching Inc.
Twitter: @pedersenrecover
Instagram: @pedersenrecovery

The Pedersen Recovery RODCAST is produced by Jordan McRae. (@jmcraeradio)

LINK: https://soundcloud.com/ridervoice/pedersen-recovery-rodcast-ep-1-cris-carter

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